DDR3 On A Budget: Six 6 GB Memory Kits

Have DDR3 prices finally hit rock bottom? DDR3-1600 reached $30 per 2 GB module several weeks ago, making it completely competitive in price-per-performance with DDR2. Available in both dual-channel and triple-channel kits for $60 and $90, these aren't last year’s high-voltage parts, but instead completely modern 1.50-1.65 V modules, fully compatible with Core i7, Phenom II socket AM3, and future Core i5 platforms.

But those were June's prices, and several of the modules that qualified for our “sub-$100 triple-channel roundup” have since gone up to as much as $130. Meanwhile, prices for the DDR2 that still competes for attention in AM2+ and LGA 775 platforms have remained relatively flat. A few of today’s contenders haven’t yet been hit by the higher cost bug, but we see it as only a matter of time before the cheapest models get more expensive or the more expensive models get cheaper. Either move will result in all six sets once again settling into the same price class.

Today’s comparison is about value, so the products lagging behind the upward pricing trend have a distinct advantage no matter how long it lasts. With daily updates logistically difficult, tomorrow’s readers should instead find our test data far more useful than any value conclusions when using future prices.

Value for us is defined by how much performance we can extract from a part, rather than how much it’s specified to provide. Overclocking and under-latency test results are thus more significant to us than rated settings, yet some people refuse to overclock by a greater amount than specified by the module manufacturer. Here’s a short list of how today’s samples are marketed.

Low-Cost DDR3 Rated Timings and Voltage

TimingsVoltage
A-Data DDR3-1333 CAS 7, model AX3U1333PB2G7-3P7-7-7-201.65 V
Corsair DDR3-1600 CAS 8, model TR3X6G1600C88-8-8-24
1.65 V
Crucial DDR3-1333 CAS9, model CT3KIT25664BA1339 9-9-9-28
1.50 V
OCZ DDR3-1333 CAS 7, model OCZ3X1333LV6GK7-7-7-20
1.60 V
Patriot DDR3-1333 CAS 7, model PVT36G1333LLK7-7-7-20
1.65 V
Super Talent DDR3-1600, model CAS 9 WB160UX6G99-9-9-28
1.65 V


The only company to rate its part at standard voltage, Crucial’s higher-latency DDR3 can be viewed as the only parts in today’s lineup that don’t require overclocking techniques to reach rated speed and timings. Our overclocking tests will be the equalizer, since we apply the same voltage limit to every set.

Before we move on to overclock testing and value assessment, let’s take a closer look at each product in today’s comparison.

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  • aspireonelover
    Great review, this helped me determine with determining about DDR3 6GB kits. Since I'm in the middle of building my core i7 rig. thx!
    btw, isn't there any cheaper ram on the way as well?
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  • Crashman
    These were all available for under $90 at the July 3 price deadline. Amazing what's happened since, eh?
    1
  • pirateboy
    rather silly not to include any gskill ram
    1
  • neiroatopelcc
    Is 1.65v really needed?
    I recently built an i7 mashine with 2x6gb ocz gold modules.
    Instead of running them at their rated 1600mhz @ 1.65v I decided to go for 1333 @ 7-7-6-17 - and that @ stock 1.5v ; I don't really get the point of feeding them more juice just to get timings a tad lower, or frequency a tad up.
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  • hixbot
    With the minimal performance gains from high-end RAM, glad to see an evaluation of the "cheap" stuff. Good work.
    1
  • bk420
    I wish these came in 2 or 4 packs also!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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  • inmytaxi
    OCZ DDR3 3x 2 GB kits, the Gold and the Plat at 1333 and 1600, dropped below 100 bucks at NewEgg and ZipZoomFly three months ago. They've been $89 - 99 PLUS a 20 rebate with FREE shipping there on and off since April.

    The statement at the heading is inaccurate.
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  • monkeysweat
    what about kingston ram?
    1
  • itadakimasu
    I picked up some 12gb ocz platinum 1333 kits for $135, and 140 off of amazon. Found them using bing.com/cashback.
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  • xanubisx
    do not use ocz's xmp set the memory yourself. On my memory the 1600mhz with xmp i tried the xmp 1600 setting and it cooked my i7 cpu. After the shitty rma process i installed the memory and set all the timings myself and found out that the xmp profile set the qpi voltage to 1.4 when it runs fine on 1.105 (i think) the default qpi voltage anyways i learnt my lesson ocz might have cheap memory but dont use the xmp.
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  • doron
    Maybe you live in an area where usual temps are 10-30* celsius, but don't forget that there are people who live in areas where at summer things can get really hot so I don't understand why not add at least a warning saying that overclocking this ram is really not safe unless you know what you're doing.

    I know lots of people who read toms hardware occasionally and don't know a thing about computers - have cramped cases without proper ventilation and low-end ram without heatspreaders. Temps around here in July-August are around 40*C. Do you think it's smart if they were to overclock their ram? Because that's actually what you imply..
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  • aspireonelover
    pirateboyrather silly not to include any gskill ram

    Budget RAM XD
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  • chripuck
    aspireoneloverBudget RAM XD

    I got my 6 GB 1600 DDR3 GSkill kit for $95 with free shipping back in March. Run's rock solid at 8,8,8,21 on 1t timings.
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  • chripuck
    doronMaybe you live in an area where usual temps are 10-30* celsius, but don't forget that there are people who live in areas where at summer things can get really hot so I don't understand why not add at least a warning saying that overclocking this ram is really not safe unless you know what you're doing.I know lots of people who read toms hardware occasionally and don't know a thing about computers
    - have cramped cases without proper ventilation and low-end ram without heatspreaders. Temps around here in July-August are around 40*C. Do you think it's smart if they were to overclock their ram? Because that's actually what you imply..

    Where do you live that 40C is the norm in summertime? I live in Atlanta and 35 is average. Even South Florida doesn't really get much hotter.
    -1
  • Anonymous
    I tried this memory.... it SUCKS! This memory caused my computer to crash every single time I tied to run prime95!
    -2
  • Crashman
    bk420I wish these came in 2 or 4 packs also!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Half of them do, read the descriptions.

    inmytaxiOCZ DDR3 3x 2 GB kits, the Gold and the Plat at 1333 and 1600, dropped below 100 bucks at NewEgg and ZipZoomFly three months ago. They've been $89 - 99 PLUS a 20 rebate with FREE shipping there on and off since April.The statement at the heading is inaccurate.


    The Intel Extreme Edition was cheapest on July 3 when testing began, and the prices were updated the day before the article was published. No Gold or Platinum available for under $99 on August 5, since venders listing lower prices were out of stock.

    MonkeySweatwhat about kingston ram?


    Everyone was invited, some companies chose not to participate. In particular, some companies don't like overclocking articles that promote their cheaper modules at the expense of some high-end product sales.
    3
  • Crashman
    vasgtoI tried this memory.... it SUCKS! This memory caused my computer to crash every single time I tied to run prime95!


    Wow, you tried all of them? That's really sad.
    2
  • anamaniac
    Looking forward to likely a 8GB 1600 set myself.
    Ramdisk FTW!

    For my purposes, the 1600 is still over. With the i7/Core2, we have proven thus anything over 1066 useless in most games already. It may be different with the i5, but I doubt it. I just want cheap quantity at the moment.
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  • xanubisx
    aspireoneloverBudget RAM XD

    I was running the ram at it's rated speed it was not an overclock I bough the 1600mhz kit that's shouldn't be hard to understand also everyone in the 2009 will have a/c in their house or apartment so it's not like I'm running my computer on some Mexican beach. Ocz XMP profiles are not clocked properly on the 1600 kit because it gives the qpi to much voltage causing the CPU to overheat. CPU is running stock clocks stock heatsinks. Before you run your mouth use your brain thanks. PS the memory works great you just have to set the clocks yourself
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  • xanubisx
    That was for doron btw clicked the wrong post by mistake
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